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Archive for September, 2016

Big art sale!

September 30th, 2016 at 11:20 am

I dropped off some more woven tapestries of my mother's at a certain art gallery first thing this morning, before the rain began. The gallery owner had told me there had been a certain man looking at my mother's woven pieces in the gallery, and she told me to bring more in; she was pretty certain he was going to buy something.

It took us some time to decide on the pricing. The prices we agreed on were quite a bit lower than my mother's prices and I did feel a little guilty doing that, but I do need to move some of this art out, I don't want to spend a lifetime doing so and I do know my mother changed her prices quite a bit.

The gallery owner called me back this afternoon. As soon as I left, she called the man who had been interested in the weavings and he went back to the shop very quickly. He wound up buying 7 pieces!

The gross sale was $2,785, and after the gallery owner takes her 30%, I'll net $1,950, which I'm pleased about.

For me, though, it's not really about the money, though of course I welcome it, especially not working right now. It's more about moving some of this art out, making room in my home and knowing that new people will enjoy the art. That's what it was created for. In my home, I daydream about having the room someday to really highlight certain favorite pieces I have, but right now there is just so much here I can't do that.


Here's one of the tapestries that sold: Village at Sunset.

Mom would have been very excited about this sale. Whenever she sold something, she would always call me to tell me about it and then I'd ask her to describe which one it was, how much it sold for and how much she netted. It often made her day.

The pieces were purchased by a man who loves art, especially abstract art, and happens to own 2 area nursing homes. The pieces he purchased would go in a conference room and perhaps some offices. He especially liked mom's weavings, as opposed to her woven paintings or paper construction or oils.

There was also a smaller sale ($135) to a customer who had purchased my mother's art before, and before the customer moved to Florida, he came in and bought some more of mom's art to take with him..

I'll head back up to the gallery on Tuesday to collect a check. Smile

After I dropped off the tapestries at the first gallery, I went to the 2nd gallery and picked up some very small stuff that hadn't sold, and she accepted 3 new pieces which we priced together. I also got a small check from this gallery, which takes a 40% commission.

So I'm pretty happy, although I do feel a certain sense of loss and sadness that I'll never see those sold pieces again. It's irrational because at the same time I KNOW I must make room in my home and I can't hang onto everything.

Got the results back from yesterday's blood test. I tested negative for Lyme disease but was instructed to continue taking the antibiotics I just started. It's possible the test was taken too early for the Lyme to show up and it could also be one of the other tickborne illnesses, which she didn't test for. I'm to repeat the blood test in 7 to 10 days if I'm still feeling headachey.

Potential big art sale

September 29th, 2016 at 05:24 pm

So tonight I went to an after work hours retirement party for someone I barely knew at the bank; I usually shy away from these sorts of things, but i was touched that my old boss thought to invite me, so I went. And I did enjoy seeing all the old familiar faces, along with a number of people who, like me, had been laid off, some much earlier than me, who had already found new work.

The party was at a brand new brewery in a bad part of town, but there was plenty of security in the parking lot and apparently one of them even followed me to my car in the far end of the parking lot. I had parked in a cornerr and was nearly boxed in and so as I was backign out I saw the security guy standing right there, ready to help.

I left there feeling recharged and upbeat after seeing all the old coworkers. I began thinking again about an interesting article Dido posted on Facebook about introverts who don't like to mingle at these social functions. The article said that maintaining relationships with family is the easy part; the harder part is maintaining relationships with friends, and that we spend the majority of our time with casual friends and acquaintances. Which really is true. Most people don't have a ton of best friends.

I also got a call tonight from a gallery where my mother's work has been; she said a man who was familiar with my mother's work was looking at some of my mother's weavings in the shop, and asked to see more. She's pretty sure he'll end up buying something. So I'm heading up there tomorrow with 6 or 7 other tapestries he may like. Smile

Then I got an email from another gallery where she was asking me to pick up most of the small stuff I have there, except for 2 items, and that if I wanted to bring some new stuff to switch out, I could do that. Not sure how much more small stuff I can bring up there (I donated a lot) and I can't bring the larger stuff becus the prices would exceed the price range of her shop. She does also have a small check for me so something sold.

So tomorrow I'll be running around. I want to stop at BJs on the way back and also fill up the gas tank at BJs, using my Amex card as it will be last day of their 10% back gas station promotion.

Sunday stuff

September 25th, 2016 at 04:11 pm

We paid a visit to my favorite garden center today.


They have a super cool shop. I could spend hours here.




They make a lot of gorgeous succulent arrangements in unusual planters.


Lots of great, warty pumpkins but $18 is a bit much.





Also stopped at the organic farm and got some apples and tomatoes.

Gave dad a bunch of small daffodil bulbs the voles dug up; I replanted about 50 myself and then divided a large gazania plant in brittle resin pot into 3 new plants.

Veggie Garden Roundup

September 23rd, 2016 at 05:31 pm

It wasn't the biggest garden I've ever had, and half of it was in pots lining my driveway, but given the small effort I put into it, I was pretty satisfied with what I reaped.

Eggplants: This was my greatest success, considering I think I only grew eggplant once before. I had 2 plants; one of them was destroyed by voles, but the remaining plant gave me 9 wonderful eggplants, all of which I used to make my favorite eggplant recipe: baba ganouch.

Cucumbers: This was another great success. I had just 2 cucumber plants; one of them gave me 22 cucumbers (!!!) and the other, a pickle cucumber I accidentally bought, gave me 7 pickled-sized cucumbers. Both of these were potted plants.

Tomatoes: I didn't a ton of tomatoes from my 2 potted plants, just 19 cherry tomatoes from one and 8 small to medium sized tomatoes from the other plant. Believe me, I watered daily for most of the summer.

Stringbeans: Sigh. The string beans I sowed in fenced garden were destroyed by voles. The string beans I sowed near my front door were mowed down by voles. The string beans I sowed in 3 pots in the middle of the driveway, surrounded by fencing, looked absolutely pristine until a woodchuck discovered them late in the season, destroying most of my crop. I had just one good meal with string beans as a result.

Onions: This was a waste of time. I figured the voles would not bother these, and for the most part, I don't think they did, but they took up a lot of space and never really seemed to grow much. I ate them all in a single meal of potatoes, onions and broccoli. I think one problem was they probably didn't get enough water. I dislike having the drag the hose over the driveway stone wall and down the front of the lawn and stand there with the sprayer; it was difficult getting the new sprinkler to send water exactly where I wanted it.

Wineberries: I picked about 2 cups worth of wineberries and blackberries from the thickets surrounding my yard.

I also grew mint, basil and parsley in pots. I will have at least 3 pots of parsley next year to attract more butterfly caterpillars, hopefully earlier in the season, becus it was very special to watch them emerge and make their very first flights.

Earlier tonight I brought all my houseplants indoors as it's going to be much chillier tomorrow morning and overnight. I used the garden hose to thoroughly spray each plant, underside too, to avoid bringing any bugs indoors. Most of them wound up in my upstairs sunny bathroom. Most of them seem to have benefitted from their time outdoors (especially my copper plant, a succulent, and something in the cactus family, although the pothos ivy is looking a little beat up and the aloe looked better inside and was actually very sun-sensitive.

I would like to try to divide a crowded gazanie daisy plant that's resided in a pot for at least 5 years now, successfully overwintering each winter in the garage with 2 other pots of the same plant. They all look great, very bushy, but the one resin pot is crumbling and the plant is big enough I could create 2 plants if I can figure out which pots to use.

I also have a ton of daffodil bulbs, like 50 or so, that were dug up by voles earlier in the summer. Annoying. I have a potted lavender plant I may as well try planting in the ground.

I made a trip to Whole Foods today for just a few things I can't find elsewhere, including organic dried apple rings from the bulk bin, vegan mac and cheese and organic lemon juice in a jar.

I'm feeling a little concerned because the guy who interviewed me for that job on Tuesday had said he would be in touch toward the end of the week to schedule an in-person meeting with me, and I never heard from him. I sure hope he didn't meet other candidates he feels are more qualified but I think that's a possibility.

I was going to do another beach cleanup tomorrow about a half hour away but it starts at 9 and I am feeling a little lazy right now. I always have so much to do at home but seem to always leave that and do shopping errands or something else instead.

I did hang some laundry out to dry outdoors today and I checked in briefly with my job coach. I made more baba ganouch.

Dumb recruiter

September 22nd, 2016 at 05:54 pm

Yesterday morning I saw a new job posting, a 3-monthh contract for a writer to do employee communications at a healthcare company. I sent in my resume, and while I was out hiking, the recruiter who posted the job called and left me a message.

I called him back when I returned home from the hike, which was about an hour after he called me. I got his voice mail and left a message; he didn't respond back until after 5 that night, via email, saying sorry, I could only submit 2 candidates for the job and I already found them.

I mean, I called him back just one hour later and it was already too late? Usually a recruiter chooses the top 3 or 4 best candidates for a job; this guy said that 45 people had applied for the job and he was calling all of those who qualified. So instead of getting my resume submitted based on my qualifications, looks like he was submitting resumes based on who could get back to him quickest.

I've never had that happen to me before. I was really annoyed because I had gotten excited about the job, only to be told I was too late. So i told him don't bother contacting me for any more jobs.

Wednesday words

September 21st, 2016 at 08:02 am


Not sure how I'm supposed to get any work done here...


Hairy monster.

Yesterday's Meals:

Breakfast: My own granola with generous serving of fresh raspberries and unsweetened almond milk.

Lunch: An entire Trader Joe's pesto/broccoli frozen pizza. Dessert: Soy ice cream sandwich. One Brazil nut (supplies the day's requirement of Vit. E)

Dinner: Strangely did not feel hungry but I did make a banana/nectarine/almond milk smoothie and then around 9 pm I sliced up a half a cucumber and ate it plain, including the antioxidant-rich skin.

Waiting for the furnace guy to come and clean/tune up the furnace for the winter season. Once he's come and gone, I want to head over to a nearby Audubon center to do a LONG walk. I'm a bit behind on my walking for this week. I'll stop at Shop Rite on the way home and deposit a $212 check I received for freelance editing.

What your job would be like if your boss was a cat...

September 20th, 2016 at 04:14 pm

http://www.businesscat.happyjar.com/

Phew. Got thru the interview

September 20th, 2016 at 09:16 am

I just got through with my phone job interview. It was a 30-minute interview that actually continued for 55 minutes, which I guess is a good thing. I was feeling nervous because I knew this was a writing job where simply being a good writer would not be enough; I would need to understand how to interpret and apply analytic research about online customers' shopping behavior (in terms of clicks here or clicks there, what pages they view and so on) to what and how I write.

I didn't understand a lot of what he said, to be honest, about how their business model works, but this has happened to me before and I did okay. I could tell he was prepared and had a list of specific questions (what salary did I want, why do you want to work for us, are you willing to use analytics in the writing, am I familiar with SEO, why did you leave last company, how do you juggle competing deadlines).

He did ask the dreaded salary question and to my surprise, after I answered in a way that basically avoided answering the question (I'd like to be compensated at a level that's competitive with the industry, based on my background and experience), he did not push for more and he did later say it was a competitive pay with medical/dental, PTO and so on, leading me to believe I might not have to take a pay cut from the $82,700 I was making when I left the bank.

Their CT location is very small, I think, probably no more than 10 people, though I could be wrong. This is based on how many people came up when I searched Linked In for that company. They have more people in their PA location.

When he asked me the question about would I be open to using analytics to inform my content, I came up with a really great metaphor while answering that question which I think he liked. I said, think about a masterpiece painting, like a Picasso. There's not a single brushstroke or dab of paint that is unintended; everything is deliberate, and there for a reason. That's really how I approach my writing, I told him. Language is a tool, like any other tool, that I use to achieve very specific goals.

I thought it was a good metaphor and when I relayed this to my friend R. after the interview, he agreed and thought it was great.

Toward the end I started getting good signals from the interviewer becus he told me in very basic terms what their compensation package includes and the work environment, and I felt like he was trying to sell me on the company a little. He said in all his 25 years of working it was the best work environment. Or maybe I was just the first person he interviewed. He even said something a little complimentary about my resume. He's going to call me during the end of the week to schedule an in-person interview, at which time I will be even MORE nervous than I was this morning.

Job interviews are one of those things that no matter how many times I do them, they don't seem to get any easier. Even when the stakes aren't that high. Meaning, I still have 5 months of unemployment benefits left, I'm in great shape financially and just have a few more years to go before I'll seek to retire. But still, I feel so nervous about interviewing and getting the job and not stumbling over some answer or just blanking out.

In other news...
If your yard's in need of attention or you want to do some planting but are unsure what will work in your area, click on this link below and type in your zip code and email, and you'll get a list of plants (berry-producing shrubs and trees as well as perennial flowers) (with color photos) appropriate for your area, along with the different bird species that plant will attract.

http://www.audubon.org/native-plants

It's part of their drive to plant 1 million native species to help feed birds.

When you see plants you like, you can build your own list of favorites. It's a pretty neat tool.

A little of this, a little of that

September 19th, 2016 at 03:01 pm

I spent most of the day, on and off, prepping for my phone interview tomorrow. I'm reading their website and their case studies, researching certain marketing terms I'm not familiar with, and reviewing my own job history becus I'm a little rusty and not sure what he'll ask.

In between that, my dad came over in the morning and with him here I attempted to access his Santander checking account by creating an online account. It took an hour; we went through the whole long security questions with one rep and then when she was nearly done, she disconnected us and she never called me back so I had to call again and start all over with someone else who got me access to the account.

Dad's had trouble with The Hartford becus they cancelled his auto insurance after claiming they never received payment from him, even though his bank shows the amount due was electronically withdrawn from his account.

I wanted to access a copy of the actual cancelled check so I could email it to The Hartford, but it didn't appear on Santander's site and so they have to retrieve this manually, and that will take up to 2 days.

What a nuisance. Meanwhile, dad has been driving illegally and is takign a risk getting stopped by a cop.

My dad had even gotten his bank and the insurer on the phone together but that did not immediately resolve the problem.

I also was able to find an old friend (husband/wife) of my dad's on Facebook; he remembered they live in CT and now that he's up here, too, I think he would like to reconnect. They were friends when my dad's second wife was still alive.

So I found her on FAcebook and becus she listed where she worked, I called her there and confirmed that it was her. She seemed nice and gave me two of their phone numbers; I know my dad will be excited about it once I reach him on the phone.

I also picked up 3 pieces of unsold art at a local frame shop after the end of an exhibit there.

I attended yet another webinar on creating "SOAR" statements that can be used on your resume and at an interview.

Yesterday we did the 4th road trip with my friend R., this time driving up to Burlington to briefly meet R.'s niece and her 2 girls and then to Collinsville, where we lunch on the patio.

As we were driving, we went past a private home with the most spectacular gardens. I made R. turn around so we could get a second look. It was a busy road so I didn't get out of the car, but this should give you an idea:


Look at the size of those window box plantings!


These manicured and carefully pruned plantings completely surrounded the house on both sides, which you can't really see here, as well as a backyard that sloped uphill, so the view from the road was really stunning.


Here's Luther, wondering what's for dinner.


Oh, and here is me with the other volunteers at the International Coastal Cleanup on Saturday. I'm in the front row, the only one not wearing their t-shirt. (I arrived late and couldn't figure out how everyone managed to change into these shirts when they arrived.)

Busy AM; now it's time to relax!

September 17th, 2016 at 11:14 am

There were 2 events I wanted to do today and I had to choose one: either the Int'l Coastal Cleanup Day at a beach an hour's drive from here, or the annual health fair here in town.

Since I go to the health fair every year, I decided to push myself to do the litter pickup on the beach. I've participated a few times in past years and found it very enjoyable.

However, I had to leave the house by 8 a.m. to get there in time, which I did. Everyone got a free t-shirt along with garbage bags and gloves, and we were told to form teams.

I was looking forward to wandering up and down a long beach, but this particular park was part picnic grounds and trails and only had a small town beach. Not only that, but it was pretty darn clean to begin with! We had to content ourselves with picking up piles of cigarette butts, for the most part.



At other locations with the usual trash problems, particularly when it washes in with the surf, we'd haul car tires and all sorts of much larger debris, which I have to say is more satisfying when you clean it up.

I did get to talk to a few very nice women about my age, and I especially enjoyed talking about upcoming retirement plans with one of them who was still working full time at age 67! That will not be me! She revealed that she rents, so I can see how forever having that big expense could cause one to hesitate when it came to retirement.

There were about 30 volunteers, and they rounded us all up toward the end for a group photo which I guess will appear on a website somewhere.

There being so little litter, I headed home earlier than expected and found I was home in time to catch the tail end of the health fair, where I got my flu shot, my cholesterol and glucose checked. All good!

I HAD eaten breakfast so my glucose, at 99, was fine.

Normal is less than140 for a non-fasting person.

My overall cholesterol was 186 with HDL at 81 (great), trig at 116 (als0 great) and LDL at 81 (still great). My ratio was 2.3, very, very great.

Having gotten all these key numbers, I may feel more comfortable skipping my physical next spring (or until I get a perm job). Because even though preventive healthcare is supposed to be "free," it's a fairly expensive proposition to get a physical because my doctor's office requires you to come in to discuss the results and while you don't pay anything for the 1st visit, you do pay $25 for the 2nd one. (It's worth it to discuss those results in an unhurried manner.) However, you then have to pay the lab fee for all the bloodwork and I recall that being another $90.

So I saved myself $115 in fees going to the town health fair.

After the health fair I went home and remembered my dad's DNA sample was sitting there and needed to be mailed. I hadn't wanted to leave it in the hot car while i was collecting litter, so I didn't bring it with me, but I also just wanted to get it out in the mail, so I drove it to the Post Office, then stopped at grocery store to pick up a few things and when I got home I made a nice corn, tomato and black bean salad, supplemented with some very colorful organic tomatoes and a small bell pepper I got at the organic farm.



You don't even need to cook the frozen corn, you just dump it in the bowl and let it dethaw. I love cold salads like this. I just add a little salad dressing to coat all.

Now I'm really pooped. There's something about spending a few hours in bright sunlight that just wears me out.

Just going to relax for the rest of the day since tomorrow we have another "outing" planned.

Patient Saver's List

September 16th, 2016 at 07:16 pm

Ooh, I played this game once before but I don't remember what was on my list then.

1. I never married and have no kids. (See #19 below for a hint why.)

2. I LOVE to travel and did a fair amount in my 30s, mainly to Europe, about 5 or 6 times, and also at least 3 major trips thru Canada (Canadian Rockies, Yukon, Montreal, Nova Scotia, Laurentian Mts), Mexico, Costa Rica, US Virgin Islands. My favorite state is Alaska.

3. I'm an amateur naturalist and love studying insects, birds, butterflies, critters, you name it.

4. I'm a liberal.

5. Probably the most interesting thing about me are the many unusual jobs I've held, including 2 fun journalism jobs and another one working for a company that investigated insurance fraud cases. I also worked for a nonprofit environmental group that was very hands-on, requiring me to pack and sort over a dozen different types of tree seedlings, and also manage a trout fingerling sale we did as a fundraiser.

6. I also went to law school in Boston, but dropped out after a year (probably a mistake).

7. My favorite color is turquoise.

8. I'm a history buff.

9 I'm a genealogy fanatic.

10 Social injustice bothers me a lot.

11 I am proud of having paid off a 30-year mortgage in 17 years and all the progress I've made saving for my retirement.

12 I'm probably an atheist. Agnostic at best. If I had to pick a religion, it would be Buddhism, and I am interested in Eastern philosophy, yoga, meditation, healthcare, etc.

13 I've been writing for a living all my life, marketing, mostly.

14 My favorite kind of writing happens when I can act as an advocate for others, which is something I did in what was close to my dream job when I worked as a personal finance writer for a consumer website that has since gone belly up.

15 I have had chickadees and wild turkeys eat out of my hand.

16 The beauty, symmetry and synergism of the natural world will always fill me with wonder.

17 I like to record everything I see (using a camera)

18 I am a vegan-in-process with a strong interest in diet and nutrition

19 When I was very young, I was kidnapped by my father during a contentious post-divorce dispute between my parents over visitation. Since that time, I've had 3 step-parents (2 step-fathers and 1 step-mother). My parents outlived them all.

20. I've met one fellow SA blogger here, twice! And would do it again.

Phone interview lined up; mixed feelings

September 16th, 2016 at 06:19 pm

I got an email from a job I applied for, asking me to chat on the phone next week.

I haven't really had too many parameters on what kind of company I'd want to work for, although one of them was to shy away from start-ups or very small companies because my past experience has been they can be very unstable, plus pay and benefits are not as good as with a larger firm.

I need to do more research, but this looks to be a very small company that, while not a startup, isn't that old. The company has two businesses, and the one I'm guessing I'd be working for was just rebranded as a separate company in 2013.

The office local to me would be a decent commute; they also have an office in PA.

I'm guessing the main purpose of the phone call is to tease out what salary expectations I would have, and my job, according to a webinar I just took today, is to obfuscate and avoid naming a salary range if at all possible. Get them to share their salary range. If I honestly told them what i was making at the bank, i don't think a small company of this size could match it.

They are not a public company and don't even show up on glassdoor.com, so hard to find out much about them. A few press releases, and news of their acquiring another small company, a number of Linked In profiles, stuff about the business with a few business bios on the website, that's about it.

I will devote as much time as possible to prepping for the talk and trying to come up with an acceptable, accurate salary range. This is my 1st "interview" in about 3 years and i do feel rusty.

Honestly, I don't feel like I have to marry the company, only work there for 3 years before my planned retirement. If I love it and wanted to stay longer? Sure, that's always a possibility but right now the game plan calls for an exit after 3 years. So the pay probably doesn't have to exceed or even match the bank salary, although that would very desirable, of course.

I think my goal during the phone call is to make sure I get invited to an in-person interview, and not allow them to eliminate me from consideration based simply on salary. So this is the big question.

Last night we saw Sully, the movie about the United Airlines pilot who landed the plane on the Hudson River in an emergency landing. It was pretty good, with Tom Hanks playing Sully.

I want to go back to the movies next week (with dad) to either see the Snowden movie or Paper Lanterns, a movie about the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima during WWII. The latter one is one-night only.

My revised projected income/expense scenario

September 14th, 2016 at 04:09 am

Whenever I have a major change in income, I like to update my Projected Income & Expense Sheet; it helps me develop a roadmap for the months ahead.

As anticipated, the weekly unemployment benefits I'm now receiving (yes, I discovered 4 weekly checks had been deposited in my checking account already...i thought this would be delayed another month due to my severance) will help me squeak by on essential expenses for the 6 months I can expect to receive them, thru January 2017.

But just barely.

Unemployment benefits in CT for someone with my previous income are $598 a week gross, or $520 a week net. Sounds like a lot, doesn't it?

My total essential monthly expenses come out to $1,936. (Thank goodness I paid the mortgage off years ago.) I think that's a pretty accurate figure since I based it on the average of the first 8 months of my actual expenses in 2016, year-to-date through August.

Seems like nearly every expense rose at least a little, and some things, like my car insurance and food, rose a lot. However, I anticipate getting a fairly significant discount on the car insurance after signing up for Safeco's "Right Trak" program when my policy renews in October.

My food costs seem astronomical for a single person who doesn't even eat meat or cheese (I'm budgeting $300/mth though I have spent more!), but I do buy a lot of organics. I know I can scale back some of the pricier things I buy. I just need to be more careful, and go back to doing more of my shopping at Shop Rite, not Whole Foods! (Not that I shopped at WF often; it was more of a treat, maybe once every 2 months.)

My biggest single expense increase is my health insurance (